There are two main ways that we decide to start creating codes - top-down code creation and bottom-up code creation.
You may choose to create codes using a top-down approach if you have predetermined themes or ideas that you are already looking for in your project. For example, if your project is generally asking questions around transportation, you may be thinking of codes related to “traffic,” “public transit,” “gas prices,” etc. You may choose this approach to start creating your code list, or you may already have a list of codes you are hoping to find within the highlights you’ve created from your conversations.
Bottom-up coding is an approach you may take to organically think of codes as you listen to the content of your highlights. Your open mind and intuition are your best tools in this approach. As you re-listen and re-read each highlight, you can refer to the memos that you wrote in Fora Voices to create concise concrete or abstract codes. When bottom-up coding, you may generate dozens of new codes. The intention is to remain open to emerging topics, themes, and concepts and capture them with codes that accurately represent them.
Your team may also choose to combine both approaches, depending on the scope, timeline and context of your project. However you decide to create codes, you will find certain tools helpful, such as an online whiteboard (i.e. Mural, Miro, or Jamboard) if you are working remotely. If you are creating a codebook in-person, you may opt to gather and use a real whiteboard, butcher paper, sticky notes, and markers to capture your codes.